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#954452 - 09/04/08 12:52 AM Student wants to quit
lana_lang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 45
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
I know that my 13 yr. old student wants to quit, probably has for some time now. But, the parents won't let him quit. On one hand, I feel bad for him because he has lost all interest in playing piano. I think he is missing out.

On the other hand, he is getting more and more difficult to teach. His attitude is negative and snippy at times. He doesn't practice like he should and his skills seem to be declining. I've thought about dropping him, but I don't know if that would be the best course of action.

Have any of you been in this situation? What do you recommend?
_________________________
part-time piano teacher for 1.5 years

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#954453 - 09/04/08 03:38 AM Re: Student wants to quit
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
I've been in the same boat many times before. The best thing to do is to let the student go. It will make your life a lot better. Trust me.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#954454 - 09/04/08 07:37 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Philip Yeoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/30/08
Posts: 73
Loc: Penang, Malaysia
 Quote:
Originally posted by AZNpiano:
I've been in the same boat many times before. The best thing to do is to let the student go. It will make your life a lot better. Trust me. [/b]
Yes, I agree. It can be very trying to teach teenagers. I should know, I've been teaching my 15 year-old son myself

Well, who said it would be easy being a piano teacher?
_________________________
www.philipyeoh.com/blog

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#954455 - 09/04/08 07:40 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
I'll second that.

In the past I have tried everything possible to remedy this kind of situation. It was my belief that there has to be a way to reach them and rekindle the spark. Unfortunately sometimes there just isn't. You know the lessons should stop but you feel bad about being the one to do it right? What you need to do is find a way of letting them go gently.

The parents don't want him to quit. By dropping him there is nothing to say he has to quit piano. You might persuade them that a change of teacher could do him the world of good and sometimes it can. Tell them that you are no longer acle to take their money because he is not practicing and therefore not benefiting from the lessons. You have a waiting list of students and really can't afford to keep a student who is clearly not enjoying it. Provide them with a list of other teachers who should be able to acommodate him. Don't feel bad or make a big deal about it. They all have to leave at some point don't they?

I lost one just this week who was exactly the same. Before the Summer I asked them to consider if the lessons were worth carrying on with this term. They called last week to say they had decided to leave it. I feel a huge sense of relief because I did not enjoy the lessons. Now I can fill that slot wih a fresh student! It is best for everyone.

Good luck.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954456 - 09/04/08 07:58 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Another though which is worth mentioning...

I teach around four to five hours on a typical evening. It is incredible how one bad student can ruin your day. I used to have a student at the end of my Thursday evening session who was really hard work. I would feel anxious about it all day and would often be a little short tempered with my other students as a result. When this person finally left all that anxiety went away and Thursday was lovely. Not only was it better for me but for all my other lessons as well.

Never underestimate the effect that one of these students can have on you and your teaching. You might be worried about treating them unfairly but I can assure you they are not giving you a second thought.

Be strong and do the right thing. You owe it to yourself.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954457 - 09/04/08 08:59 AM Re: Student wants to quit
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
I'm not a teacher, but this is a thought inspired by the book "Note by Note":

Does this student have an iPod? What music does he have on it? Can you help him figure out one of these songs by ear? If you can't help him figure it out by ear, can you find sheet music for it or a song by the same group?

Rich
_________________________

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#954458 - 09/04/08 09:12 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11929
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I agree with Chris and AZN, it is probably for the best to drop the student, as it isn't benefiting him. However, if the parents promise he will practice more, what then? Dragon has a good suggestion, and this is something that I try to do with all my students. Have him pick a song he likes and help him figure out the tune by ear with the RH. Then tell him this is where his chords come into play, and have him figure out the harmonization for the LH. Of course, he'd have to practice his scales to figure out the melody, and his chords to figure out the harmony. And of course, arpeggios to be able to make the harmony sound good.

Show him the 12-bar blues progression and a few different blues accompaniments, and teach him the blues scale (scale degrees 1-b3-4-b5-5-b7-8) and help him improvise over a 12-bar blues accompaniment.

These things can not only make it interesting for him and perhaps get him to practice, he will see the purpose behind everything he's learned so far. Piano is not for everyone, but perhaps you can find a way to make the best of the situation.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#954459 - 09/04/08 09:31 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
But why look for ways to make the best of the situation?

The kid does not want to play the piano. He has reached his teens and his interests obviously lie elsewhere. You might be able to passify him with a few pop songs for a couple of weeks but then you will be right back where you are now. Really, what is the point?

Who are you doing this for? The student does not want lessons and you are not happy to teach him. It's the parents who are pushing it for whatever reason. And yet what responsibility do they take for getting the boy to practice? Not much I bet.

Sorry to be so negative but I think this one has got to go. Reading between the lines of your original post you are beyond the point of no return.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954460 - 09/04/08 09:35 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
If the parents won't let him quit then tell them they MUST sit with him for an hour every day and make him practice. Get ready for all the excuses as to why this is not possible.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954461 - 09/04/08 09:45 AM Re: Student wants to quit
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11683
Loc: Canada
How is this good for the student? Will there be yet another future adult trying to overcome decades of loathing because of a bad association with music? To what end? It sounds like this is to teach the parent a lesson, with the hope that the parent will not be bothered. But if the parent *will* be bothered, you have a potential family fight, possible rift in the family just as the balances are shifting over something as non-essential (sorry) as piano lessons, and any potential future love of piano or music will be destroyed for the young man. How many ABFers return at the age of 40, 50, and 60, with regrets, and some trying to overcome trauma associated with forced lessons.

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#954462 - 09/04/08 09:55 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11929
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
If the parents won't let him quit then tell them they MUST sit with him for an hour every day and make him practice. Get ready for all the excuses as to why this is not possible. [/b]
Right, that was my point. If the parents promise things will improve by making him practice, then you can give it a try to at least spark his interest. I don't like teaching students who don't want to be there. It's a waste of my time and their money. However, you never know if you'll be able to reach a student if you don't try. My suggestion was only as a second option to dropping him. Sometimes you really don't know what a student does with music. He may be in a band and just finds lessons stifling and not applicable, when in fact, he's learned a lot that can be applicable. Sometimes they just need to be shown how to apply what they've learned.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#954463 - 09/04/08 09:58 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11929
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
How is this good for the student? Will there be yet another future adult trying to overcome decades of loathing because of a bad association with music? To what end? It sounds like this is to teach the parent a lesson, with the hope that the parent will not be bothered. But if the parent *will* be bothered, you have a potential family fight, possible rift in the family just as the balances are shifting over something as non-essential (sorry) as piano lessons, and any potential future love of piano or music will be destroyed for the young man. How many ABFers return at the age of 40, 50, and 60, with regrets, and some trying to overcome trauma associated with forced lessons. [/b]
And how many ABFers regret the fact that their parents let them quit? Only the teacher involved can really know where things sit with this student. If the rapport is good, and the parents want to give it another go with enforcing practice (my parents made me practice too, it wasn't a bad thing), then the teacher can try to make it enjoyable for the student. That's not a bad thing. However, I would only do this with the stipulation that if it doesn't get any better, then the teacher will drop the student, end of discussion.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#954464 - 09/04/08 10:23 AM Re: Student wants to quit
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11683
Loc: Canada
True on all counts, Morodiene. I had the impression that his teacher had the impression that continuing was not a good idea, and there was this picture of deterioration, with the student becoming snippy etc. In the overall picture I couldn't help wondering whether the parents forcing him to practice might not just lead to even greater negativity as well as possible tension in the family. Only the teacher (and the young man?) can tell for sure, though.

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#954465 - 09/04/08 10:36 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Keystring, I think your response was to my statement about the parents making them practice.

I don't think that this is the way forward. Only sometimes you need to point out to parents the consequences of forcing their child to practice. By not letting him quit that is exactly what they are doing, forcing it. Everything you say will happen is true. It will cause fights and ultimately another adult who has had a horible musical experience through childhood. The parent needs to realise this and just let it go.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954466 - 09/04/08 10:56 AM Re: Student wants to quit
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11683
Loc: Canada
Chris, I think you are quite astute. Maybe it will cause a sudden flare-up at home instead of a slow death in the studio (what a choice :p ), or best scenario, they won't push it if they are the ones who have to see it through.

KS \:\)

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#954467 - 09/04/08 12:11 PM Re: Student wants to quit
funburger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 1417
Lana Lang, if the kid stated to his parents that he wants to quit, why dont you bring up the subject with him at the beginning of the lesson, say something like your parents have told me you want to quit, ask him why. then tell him positive things about his playing and that you understand that sometimes it is difficult, and hard to find that motivation, and maybe bring up a time where you almost quit, or someone famous, and explain to him that quitting isnt always the answer etc etc

have a heart to heart another words. people that once loved something will always love it inside, just may take some more time to think maturely about it.

maybe use the lessons to have fun with the music EVEN if he doesnt practice. bring back the fun and joy in music:)

it is really hard for a parent to motivate a child, because kids seem to always listen to everyone but their parents, so i think you have a good shot at helping this kid.
_________________________
If it ain't fun I ain't doin' it:)

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#954468 - 09/04/08 12:21 PM Re: Student wants to quit
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Above and beyond the excellent points Chris has made, it seems to me that there is an issue of ethics here.

An ethical teacher cannot continue accepting remuneration when, for whatever reason, the product is no longer being delivered.

There is also an opportunity (teaching moment) to work with young students on real life problems. I ask them to discuss this with their parents. Why should they drop lessons, that is. What are their reasons in favor of dropping, what are their parents reasons for continuing. We talk it out in the studio.

Further, this is a great opportunity to spend some time discussing the arts in general, and their applicability to life. Who among us can live without music? This isn't necessarily so with our students and their families. But we know that art enriches our lives immensely.

Incidentally, as a side note, I've become my teacher. Our house/studio is littered with books piled high in every corner, walls covered with original contemporary paintings, music issuing forth from the stereo 24/7 (generally muted during lessons, of course). Students can see that the arts are the focus of my life, and who knows what those little sponges are soaking up?
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#954469 - 09/04/08 01:02 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Codetta Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/26/06
Posts: 134
Loc: Chino Hills, CA
Over the course of over 38 years of teaching I have been in Lang Lang's position. It is frustrating indeed. Oftentimes the student ended up quitting and pursuing other interests. Sometimes I have had students stick with it (because of their parent's refusal to let them give it up) and just recently I had those same students enter a local university as music majors. In the course of their musical education I oftentimes wanted to quit - but didn't, all the while keeping the line of comunication open with the parents. Fortunately, it worked out.

There is a new course called American Popular Piano that you might want to investigate. I saw a presentation at our MTAC Convention this year and was impressed. Perhaps this will add the spark your student needs to keep studying.

Here's the link: http://www.nvmusicgroup.com/NVWeb/Home.html

Best to you in this situation. By the mere fact that you write about your concern shows that you are not only a good teacher but a caring one as well.
_________________________
"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
Berthold Auerbach

Private Piano Teacher
Member: Music Teachers' Association of California
Evaluator: Certificate of Merit
Organist/Pianist: Christ Lutheran Church, West Covina

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#954470 - 09/04/08 01:02 PM Re: Student wants to quit
lana_lang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 45
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
These are all great points, everyone.

I think I will have a heart to heart with him at our next lesson to try to figure out how he feels exactly. If there is any glimmer of hope, maybe I will suggest he choose a favorite popular song and teach him to play it by ear.

I tried teaching him a favorite popular song with sheet music before, but the level of difficulty was high and I tried to show him how to simplify it. He didn't want to play the simplified version, of course, because it didn't sound like the "real music" to him. Ugh. We'll try no sheet music this time.

If he doesn't want to do even this, then I guess I will just have to drop him.
_________________________
part-time piano teacher for 1.5 years

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#954471 - 09/04/08 03:23 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Almost everyone has times when they want to quit. Experience will tell you when it is right to let it go or if you should pull them through it. It sounds like you are not ready to give it up yet and I hope you can find a way to enjoy the lessons and perhaps see it as a challenge. If you can see some potential in this boy based on what he has already achieved then go for it.

Be sure to tell him and his parents that something has got to change or you will have to drop him. It doesn't matter what style you play or if you choose to play by ear you will not get any satisfaction without putting in the practice. Be very firm on this. If the lessons are to continue you expect him to practice. Tell them you will review the situation in a month/term and if nothing has changed you will not keep teaching him. Lay it on the line. It's your studio and you are the boss. It is not like school, they don't have to be there. These are things you really want in your studio policy if you don't have one.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954472 - 09/04/08 04:54 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Golly,

I'ts my rule to never give up on a student especially if it seems that he has given up on himself.

I have many files of info saved over my teaching career about "quitting", "motivation", "slump time", and whatever you might call the actions and reactions that call for extra attention to overcome problems that might not necessarily music.

I think that is what we are capable of teaching, too, in addition to music.

First, the problem(s) need diagnosis and support to put them into perspective.

I don't think you "throw the baby out with the bath water" so to speak.

We are assuming the student knows how to succeed in music study with the thus far in life experiences he has gained.

Lots of pedagogues say that they meet their students where their students currently are....and that can be a very novice state with little or no helpful habits.

The student can be literally lost, physically, emotionally, and cognitively lost too.

What are we going to do about it when they don't shine fast enough for us? We need to teach a lot of other things when we are teaching music.

Coping and supplying are not in the method books they are in the pedagogy books and classes, and the learning differences materials, and the how the brain works. Educational psychology is a huge factor.

When a student presents problems to me, I figure that I am the one who needs to meet the challenge of making a difference with this person. I consider it part of my job - and in the process I always learn something helpful.

I am always disappointed that some one gives up too easily, and that means the student giving up, the parent giving up, and the teacher giving up.

As this is a different take on my responsibility, I would suggest that if it feels comfortable for you, you might explore some of these ideas as an option.

Regards,

Betty

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#954473 - 09/04/08 06:37 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I've talked to precious few adult pianist who didn't want to quit sometime in their early teens. I myself wanted to as well. Needless to say, I'm glad it wasn't allowed to!
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#954474 - 09/04/08 08:25 PM Re: Student wants to quit
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5933
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Stanny:
I've talked to precious few adult pianist who didn't want to quit sometime in their early teens. I myself wanted to as well. Needless to say, I'm glad it wasn't allowed to! [/b]
And plenty who said they did quit and wish they hadn't been allowed to! \:\)

However, our sample is people who are now playing the piano. I've no doubt there are plenty of people who did quit because they just weren't interested, and found their life's passion somewhere else. They probably have few regrets about it.

We just don't know which category this boy will fall into, though we have our suspicions. When you've done all you can, then you can do no more.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#954475 - 09/05/08 03:56 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Betty, I can't believe that in all your years of teaching you have never had a student who you had to let go because it just wasn't working out.

Why do people always see giving up lessons as a negative thing? Like someone (teacher, student or parent) has failed. I think there are many positives which can come from giving up things you don't want to do.

My parents were brass players. They got me a trumpet and packed me off to lessons when I was a boy. It made my lips and cheeks hurt, I hated having to empty the spit, I hated the sound and I was rubbish at it because I did not want to play or practice the damn thing. Thank god they didn't force me to continue. They let me quit trumpet and take piano instead. Do you see what I am getting at? Maybe the lad in question is missing out on something he might be good at because he has to keep doing piano every week.

Stanny, you have a point. There were times I could have quit piano but I was not allowed to. The difference was that both my parents and my teacher knew that I was good at it and that I would regret it. Despite complaining about the workload I did play the piano all the time. I am willing to bet the boy in question is a very low standard. He has probably played for quite some time and has made very little progress. If he continues for a few more years he will never really be a pianist of any kind. I know this because I have encountered so many kids like it. It's not their fault or anyone elses. Piano is just not for them and they should focus on what they are good at and what interests them.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954476 - 09/05/08 06:49 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
Why do people always see giving up lessons as a negative thing? Like someone (teacher, student or parent) has failed. I think there are many positives which can come from giving up things you don't want to do.
I think it's absurd to think that the piano is right for everyone, and quite obviously some parents force their children to take piano lessons because *they* wish they either taken lessons themselves or had not quit. \:\)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#954477 - 09/05/08 09:54 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
lang lang - did he ever love the piano and have a passion and motivational drive at it? Sometimes its not really time to quit sometimes its time for a change. This could be a change in teachers, in learning approach, style of music, instrument or interests.

Sometimes teachers and students give the wrong diagnosis and both end up unhappy. The reason why parents push their teens to continue is all the money and time invested into music being thrown away.

I've been through rough times as a teen and a child. I have lost my love and had a teacher try and rekindle it not working. I changed teachers and love it more than ever. I know others that have quit lessons but ended up as church musicians and collaborative artists. Sometimes a person would take up another instrument and piano wouldn't be wasted.

What I did in the past was ask myself why I hate piano so much, why I lost my love and what can I do I love it again. I was rekindled with it ... others have found their love elsewhere ... just a few things to think about. All the best Lang Lang.
_________________________
http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#954478 - 09/05/08 11:26 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
From Chris: "Betty, I can't believe that in all your years of teaching you have never had a student who you had to let go because it just wasn't working out."

Of course, and it always bothers me when they have "quit" before experiencing the "miracle".

I do my best to keep them in study with their permission, or it doesn't work. I really see it as a problem teachers could elect to prepare on because it is all to easy for most students to quit. They have a lot of reasons and excuses that are compelling to them when piano lessons conflict with something that gives them instant pleasure. We seem to always be aware of the having to make progress uphill climb and it puts pressure on students who are not all that convinced that they can or want to do this once they find out that it is a load of work over several years to reach the goals everyone talks about.

We can try to "save" the student to see if the path might change with some collaboration as to what might work better, or we can make room for another student to teach.

I'm a proponet of trying until it is very clear that quitting is the right option. I think of parents having invested a lot of money in their child's education, and I think of it as weighing in that we were aiming at a particular outcome - the student's musical success at the piano - and, we have not yet reached that goal.

Sometimes I feel like a family member in the midst of a family discussion when we are working through problems together. There are many professional piano teachers who would warn about becoming too close to our clients. Perhaps this is an action that comes from having raised your own children and being available 24/7/365 at home as I was with 5 children and a studio of young people. At the same time, I feel I can be very objective when that is the best choice.

I like to try to leave each family feeling that we have each "won" something through our association in music. You can't do that from a distance as well as you can do it close up.

Many parents express that they don't know what to do and they ask for guidance. I appreciate that so much more than a door that is abruptly slammed with little notice. And, I believe, this kind of work helps private music teachers in general, assist and educate their clients to what it takes to be supportive to a young musician.

Chris, I'm not trying to hide out by avoiding bad situations, I've had many. I feel it's a separate subject from trying to save a student, and that it needs words of encouragement and motivation and guidance.

Regards,

Betty

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#954479 - 09/06/08 12:24 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I admire the teacher who can say, "S/he gave up on me, I did not give up on him/her."

I think a good teacher will do everything in their power to keep a worthwhile student, including determining what the problem is and working together with the student to find a solution. Of course, you won't win them all, but if you can say that you tried your best, that's the most one can ask of ones self.

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#954480 - 09/06/08 01:52 AM Re: Student wants to quit
miss sharon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 28
Loc: colorado
I have been in this situation many times. I agree with Chris...find a way to let them go gently. I did not do this on two specific occassions and both students did end up quitting their lessons. One of them (a high school student I had taught for 7 years) left without even saying goodbye or calling to say they were quitting. So...let them go before you are disappointed.
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#954481 - 09/07/08 12:46 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Prince Charles Offline
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Registered: 05/19/08
Posts: 180
Loc: London
Hmmmm....teenagers...huh?

All those hormones coupled with peer pressure relating to piano playing is tough for any teen. Not forgetting all the great/cool things they could be doing instead of piano practice!

I'm not a piano teacher, infact I'm an adult beginner....but I am a student of human behaviour/motivation....in other words why people do what they do.

In brief, people do things for either of two reasons; to achieve pleasure or to avoid pain.

So question is, what is a teenager's pleasure?

Now I don't want to write a 10,000 word post so I'll try to keep it brief!

Teenagers are going through some physical changes, they are also becoming an adult - a chance for them to exalt their indepedence.

So what are 'your' Teenagers new found passions?[/b]

Whether it be Girls, Parties, friends, computer games - you'll need to associate how Piano playing will enhance or work with those new found passions. As an example; Maybe your student would now enjoy/prefer/take to working in a mixed group class? And instead of you suggesting it - let them use their new found independence to come out with the idea.

That might cater for a couple of their new motives.

I hear of so many adults who'd wish they'd taken up piano or another instrument. So I'm sure many of the students who 'walk away' will regret it in later years.

Mark

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#954482 - 09/07/08 07:14 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Larisa Offline
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Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
I dunno. My mother wanted me to take gymnastics when I was a kid. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to play the piano instead. Fortunately for me, she did not push the issue and let me quit gymnastics.

Do I regret "walking away"? Not a whit. I am glad I got to spend my time doing what I wanted to do instead of doing what my mother wanted to do. Would it have changed my mind if the gymnastics teacher tried very hard to keep me interested and engaged? Maybe, but not for long. I wanted to do something else with my time, and I am glad I was allowed to do so.

Incidentally, I never wanted to quit piano. Ever. Not as a child, not as a teenager, not as an adult. Yes, my parents had to force the issue of practicing at times, but never the issue of continuing with lessons.

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#954483 - 09/07/08 07:44 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Strat Offline
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Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 577
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I'll never understand parents who think that it's somehow beneficial to *force* a kid to take lessons in something that they despise, whether it be gymnastics or piano-playing. No interest, no motivation. No motivation, no progress. No progress, waste of time for everybody... ESPECIALLY the teacher.

However, in this case, Rebekah.L, I have to say that you're doing this to yourself. You're desperately trying to keep this student by any means necessary. You need to realize that at some point, you need to let go. You clearly want this a million times more than he.

To be blunt, HE DOESN'T CARE!

Maybe this boy wants to play hockey or build models, or read, or whatever else. But he's not interested in playing piano. He's sampled what it is. He knows what it consists of, but he doesn't care one lick. So why beat your head against the wall?

I admire your dedication, but at this point, it's more like overzealous taken to a different level.
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#954484 - 09/08/08 11:13 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Strat, I like your post. It's very blunt and to the point and I do think that in this situation you are probably correct.

I'm not sure if lana lang is ready to hear this yet. I remember having the same dilema many times because we judge ourselves by the progress our students make. If it doesn't work out it is too easy to blame yourself. I guess I am still guilty of flogging some students way past their sell by date. I have a small minority who have been on death row for a while now. Perhaps I should take my own advice and let them go. It's never easy though.
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#954485 - 09/08/08 12:14 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11929
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larisa:
I dunno. My mother wanted me to take gymnastics when I was a kid. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to play the piano instead. Fortunately for me, she did not push the issue and let me quit gymnastics.

Do I regret "walking away"? Not a whit. I am glad I got to spend my time doing what I wanted to do instead of doing what my mother wanted to do. Would it have changed my mind if the gymnastics teacher tried very hard to keep me interested and engaged? Maybe, but not for long. I wanted to do something else with my time, and I am glad I was allowed to do so.

Incidentally, I never wanted to quit piano. Ever. Not as a child, not as a teenager, not as an adult. Yes, my parents had to force the issue of practicing at times, but never the issue of continuing with lessons. [/b]
I know I've told this story before, but since there are new people, please bear with me if you've already heard this. I wanted to quit as a child. I never practiced, yet I loved piano. I was just very insecure and was extremely afraid of lessons, even though I had a wonderful and patient teacher. My parents and my teacher did not let me quit until I had 10 years of lessons, and I am so glad they made me stick it out. I kept playing, and when I returned to lessons many years later, I was ready. I know that everyone is different, and that piano isn't meant for everyone. Only the teacher can really assess what the situation is, and when it's best to let go, or give it a different approach.
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#954486 - 09/08/08 01:53 PM Re: Student wants to quit
pianoexcellence Offline
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Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
If the parents force it, then you would do well to just make the best of it. Many parents rely on piano lessons as a way to develop the mind. Music is one of the only things that singlehandedly develops the mind on the academic, spatial, creative, and coordination front. Students who learn to play the piano do better in school, and for some parents, that is enough.

Discuss it with the student...what happens if they hate math? or English? they do it anyway, but at least you do not have to follow any specific curriculum when you teach piano. Talk it over with the student, and ask them how to make this a good experience for everyone.

Interestingly enough, I have had a student for 4 years (on those terms). Every spring, I expect to not recieve a deposit for the fall, but every time, they continue on. Long story short, after 3.5 years of dreadful progress, something switched...(maybe his girlfriend left him for a guy who played a pretty piano piece, who knows), and he is voracious at the piano and has been for 6 months now.

Values can change.
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Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
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#954487 - 09/08/08 05:46 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
Many parents rely on piano lessons as a way to develop the mind. Music is one of the only things that singlehandedly develops the mind on the academic, spatial, creative, and coordination front. Students who learn to play the piano do better in school, and for some parents, that is enough. [/b]
This is of course very true. But it only happens if you practice doesn't it? The kids (and we have all had them!) who come to their lesson having not touched the piano all week are unlikely to experience these benefits. I think parents often lose sight of this. They may also be the ones who think that they will keep fit and healthy just by paying their gym membership.
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#954488 - 09/08/08 05:53 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
If only more parents could see this happening in action at piano lessons the respect for music lessons would certainly grow.

It gives the academically talented wings to fly with....

It gives many brain development enhancements they might never have gotten in any other way in life.

I've known a few teachers in my life who have felt that music lessons are for everybody no matter their abilities, talents, or limitations.

Some have taken students with limitations and brought music to their lives in adapted ways. Music can be experienced in many arenas, not just the high end of grand and exceptional performance.

We can meet everyone where they are whether there is to be progress made or not, there is still enjoyment and recreation with music.

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#954489 - 09/08/08 05:55 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
Interestingly enough, I have had a student for 4 years (on those terms). Every spring, I expect to not recieve a deposit for the fall, but every time, they continue on. Long story short, after 3.5 years of dreadful progress, something switched...(maybe his girlfriend left him for a guy who played a pretty piano piece, who knows), and he is voracious at the piano and has been for 6 months now.

Values can change.
And you never know when things will click.

I now have one student who has taken lessons from me longer than any other student I have. Much longer.

Because she has made such slow progress, although she never expressed an interest in quitting, I more or less assumed that she would never play one composition other than something extremely basic at full speed. I've heard every excuse in the book about why she has not had time to practice, and frankly many of them may be mostly reasonable. She has big expectations placed on her in school, and what I do has always come in at "a distant second".

But I like her, and I realized that if I had made practicing harder an issue, she would have quit. To try to get her over this huge "hump", I stressed reading (to learn faster) and stressed breaking things up very carefully into logical sections (also to learn faster) plus as much analysis of form and structure as possible (ALSO to learn faster).

Last Saturday, it just all came together. I don't know why it happened now, or exactly what it was the clicked, but I gave her the first C Major Prelude, WTC, carefully broke it into logical sections based on chord structure, showed her how to practice block chords to get the positions, and she almost had it nailed the next week, just a bit down tempo.

You just never know when things will suddenly work, when people will have a breakthrough. This was a minor shock, and a *very* pleasant one. We were both very happy.

However, if I have a student who shows any hostility towards working with me, that's it. I refuse to be policeman, warden, enforcer or "the bad guy". If I get a sullen attitude on a regular basis from any student, especially from a teen, I make it plain that because I give each student respect, regardless of age, I expect the same respect back. So if lessons become unpleasant, I simply tell everyone involved to do something about it quickly or find another teacher. \:\)
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#954490 - 09/08/08 05:58 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
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duplicate post deleted
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#954491 - 09/08/08 07:40 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Prince Charles Offline
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Registered: 05/19/08
Posts: 180
Loc: London
Sorry I don't agree with a couple of the comments....

Teenagers do not know what's best! And if they're not motivated to do something that doesn't mean the parents should just say ok...let's move on to something else.

I don't think using gymnastics as an example is relevant at all. For gymnastics you need physical prowess and either you have that or you don't.

It's up to the parents in conjunction with the teachers to keep the student motivated.

If a teenager doesn't like maths - do you just say ok, let's find something else for you? No, of course not. And let's face it - there are many that don't!

Mark

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#954492 - 09/08/08 08:11 PM Re: Student wants to quit
keystring Online   content
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Teens can be responsible and capable of making intelligent choices. Teens who do not like maths may nonetheless choose to take maths because it is a necessary subject. I have seen teens who were much more responsible than some adults. The word "motivate" is often used in a manner that I find troublesom.

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#954493 - 09/08/08 08:30 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Strat Offline
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Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 577
Loc: Toronto, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Prince Charles:
Teenagers do not know what's best! And if they're not motivated to do something that doesn't mean the parents should just say ok...let's move on to something else.[/b]
Hmmmm,... I guess you're losing sight of the fact that piano is a *hobby!* I agree with you if we're referring to school or a job, because it's necessary, but we're talking about a hobby. If the kid (regardless of age) thinks piano is dumb and dull, why force him/her to like it when there are so many other things that he/she might enjoy instead? Are parents' single-mindedness that advanced that they'd rather live vicariously through their child's unproductive piano lessons rather than allowing him/her to go towards another activity that would make him/her happy? Think about that for a second...

 Quote:
Originally posted by Prince Charles:
I don't think using gymnastics as an example is relevant at all. For gymnastics you need physical prowess and either you have that or you don't.[/b]
Right. Because it's definitely not the same with music, right? Come on, Prince Charles. All of my friends without exception are tone-deaf, have zero rhythm, and wouldn't know an out-of-tune piano from a cheap synth. You need to have *some* talent to amount to anything regardless of the activity. My analogy was proper.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Prince Charles:
It's up to the parents in conjunction with the teachers to keep the student motivated.[/b]
Agreed, but not to FORCE them to like the activity they so despise. There's a difference between a temporary lull in motivation and having none from the get-go.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Prince Charles:
If a teenager doesn't like maths - do you just say ok, let's find something else for you? No, of course not. And let's face it - there are many that don't![/b]
Again, you appear to have difficulty in seeing the difference between actual knowledge that's necessary in life and music/piano. I realize this is PW, but I think that even its members can gather up enough common sense to acknowledge the difference between lifelong necessary knowledge and a hobby!

My kid would *need* to know how to add, substract, multiply, & divide to function in society. However, my kid would definitely not need to even know what a C chord is or who Beethoven is.

Please face facts and realize the difference...
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#954494 - 09/08/08 08:44 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Strat:

My kid would *need* to know how to add, substract, multiply, & divide to function in society.
Actually, that is barely true now, with machines that do most of it for us *if* your kid ends up in a job that doesn't require math(s), though I agree that I'm taking this idea to an extreme.

There is something else more important: my piano students will not have to pass a music section on the SAT in the US. They will have to pass math.

I have students who love piano but who sometimes really can't practive much at all because they are busy cramming information into their heads for subjects they hate.

By the way, I happen to love math and always have, and I find that people who are very good in math generally have a considerable advantage when they study musical theory, so don't think I'm trashing math skills!

There is something else that bothers me even more in this discussion, and it is the idea that good parents and good teachers, together, are capable of deciding what's best for teens and somehow convincing them to listen.

Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don't, and sometimes they would not listen to God Almight. I know. I was such a teen. \:\)
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#954495 - 09/09/08 12:42 PM Re: Student wants to quit
pianoexcellence Offline
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Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
Many parents rely on piano lessons as a way to develop the mind. Music is one of the only things that singlehandedly develops the mind on the academic, spatial, creative, and coordination front. Students who learn to play the piano do better in school, and for some parents, that is enough. [/b]
This is of course very true. But it only happens if you practice doesn't it? The kids (and we have all had them!) who come to their lesson having not touched the piano all week are unlikely to experience these benefits. I think parents often lose sight of this. They may also be the ones who think that they will keep fit and healthy just by paying their gym membership. [/b]
Food for thought.

I have an adult student who NEVER ever practices. In fact, this is something that we have both agreed upon. She does not like to practice by herself, and knows that she will not practice unless she comes to a lesson. She is making slow but very steady progress. In three years, she has made about one year of progress (using 1 hour lessons).

Being well off, she doesn't mind spending $190 per month for this service. She sees value in it.

Some parents (students) have very different reasons for piano lessons than we do. It is just our job to be honest and communicate with them that they could get more out of it if they practice. Asking students to leave is a dangerous thing. I've done it a few times at the beginning of my career, and it has never turned out well.

Yes...there are students on my waiting list who want to be there more, but It is not good to think about that. I've made a commitment to the curent student, and I'll keep trying until they give up, or decide that they are not getting value for their money.
_________________________
Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
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#954496 - 09/09/08 02:01 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:

Food for thought.

I have an adult student who NEVER ever practices. In fact, this is something that we have both agreed upon. She does not like to practice by herself, and knows that she will not practice unless she comes to a lesson. She is making slow but very steady progress. In three years, she has made about one year of progress (using 1 hour lessons).
Question: what extraordinary reasons does she have for doing absolutely no work between lessons? In my opinion, if she is making even as much progress as you report, she probably has above average natural ability/talent.

I suppose we are all different. I tell such people, up front, that I'm a teacher, not a personal piano-trainer, and that anyone who comes to me expecting to do absolutely zero work between lessons simply has the wrong person and needs to find someone else.
 Quote:

Being well off, she doesn't mind spending $190 per month for this service. She sees value in it.
I imagine so. You are working very hard, and all she has to do is show up for lessons. You do the work. You are practicing for her, and each week she has a whole week to lose what you have gone over, since with absolutely no review of what goes on in the lesson, she is bound to lose a great deal, which you must then repeat next lesson.
 Quote:

Some parents (students) have very different reasons for piano lessons than we do. It is just our job to be honest and communicate with them that they could get more out of it if they practice.
I don't think it's my job to be anyone's servant, which is exactly what I become if I allow people to do zero work between lessons. For one thing, lessons with people who do no work are excruciatingly boring. From the time I started teaching I gave people a few warnings when they tried to do no practice and cut them if they did not change.
 Quote:

Asking students to leave is a dangerous thing. I've done it a few times at the beginning of my career, and it has never turned out well.
It's turned out fine for me. It doesn't have to be nasty. A student has no obligation to fulfill my expectations, but I have no obligation to teach a student who is unable to follow a few simple rules. I continue to think that not practicing between lessons, if it is the usual thing, is disrespectful and lazy, and what I teach a student who does no work is that doing no work is just fine, and expecting someone else to do everything for you is just fine, that the key issue is having enough money to hire anyone to do anything you need.
 Quote:

Yes...there are students on my waiting list who want to be there more, but It is not good to think about that.
I disagree. I'd cut the lazy student, no matter how nice, and start a student on my waiting list.

Let me make one thing clear: I am very lenient when it comes to people who are legitmately very busy and are uanble to practice much SOME weeks, even unable to practice at all SOME weeks. But every week? No way!
 Quote:

I've made a commitment to the curent student, and I'll keep trying until they give up, or decide that they are not getting value for their money.
A student who shows up once a week for an hour has made no commitment to me. That student has found a servant, and I am of no more value than a maid or hired hand.
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#954497 - 09/09/08 02:12 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Morodiene Offline
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Gary makes some great points here. It's such a tough balancing act to know when a student has crossed over the line of just being busy, and being too busy for lessons to be worthwhile. My time is not unlimited, and if there's a student waiting to get into my studio, then sometimes it is best to suggest to the student to take a break, continue playing whenever they can, and call me if and when they are ready to take lessons again. Sometimes I will breach the subject with a student, but more often than not, I let them make the first move. I had a beginner piano student, who wanted to learn piano to play it at church. I explained to him that it was not a quick thing, and to expect it to take some time to be able to do. I don't think he really took me seriously until he got into the practicing (or lack thereof) and realized that there is work involved beyond showing up once a week. He called today to let me know he won't be returning, and I told him I understood, and encouraged him to keep playing and to let me know if he's ever ready to start up again. When the student decides this, it's always easier on me ;\) .
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#954498 - 09/09/08 02:43 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Strat said: "Hmmmm,... I guess you're losing sight of the fact that piano is a *hobby!* I agree with you if we're referring to school or a job, because it's necessary, but we're talking about a hobby."

People may approach the piano as a hobby or as a personal endeavor to achieve at their highest level, and there are lots of motivations in between.

However, nothing gets done at the piano without the subject itself being treated as a music education process - full of concepts, patterns, sequences, and spatial relationships. Piano study encompasses spatial relationship, associations, logic, specific vocabularly and definitions, math and science are heavily involved whether we address it directly or not. The the greatest of the instrument under study is the individual person who finds out a lot about their behavior, attitudes, habits, patience, motivation, abilities, thinking shills, talent and concentration levels.

In addition, the human is learning how to operate his body right down to the smallest digits of his fingers to apply his musical knowledge in kinesthetic movement in a planned choreography on the piano keyboard.

This is the short list.....if you want to diminish it to a hobby status, how do you explain all the knowledge that needs to be gained before you can produce acceptable music on a regular basis.

Everything approached in the field of music is a candidate for in depth study.

Not to offend anyone who is happy with their hobby or recreational status, if it works for you, that's wonderful.

I'd like to challenge those who enjoy the climb to continue until they have reached their maximum of talent combined with acquired skills.

When you truly love music and music making, quitting is not an option - you're committed for life.

Betty

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#954499 - 09/09/08 03:29 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Betty, I like your last comment. It is a lifetimes commitment for most. But that can be a very long time and there is nothing to say we must keep taking lessons from the same teacher throughout.

Ending lessons with any teacher does not have to spell the end of piano forever. There are always other teachers and there might come a time in someones life when they are able to commit more to it and feel more inspired to do it.

Take my new found love for guitar. I took a few lessons in my teens and got nowhere. I was not motivated and didn't have time. Now I can't put the damn thing down and I am having a ball. I don't regret stopping lessons for a minute. At the time it was the right thing to do. Maybe the students who quit or who we drop will come back to it later in life with fresh enthusiasm.
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#954500 - 09/09/08 05:07 PM Re: Student wants to quit
lana_lang Offline
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Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 45
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Wow, there are so many good comments here.

When I talked to my student about this, he admitted that piano was the lowest in priority in his life, and that he is so busy that he doesn't feel like he has time to practice. To me, piano can't be lowest priority if you want to learn and improve. I fault the parents for forcing him to learn piano, but to also expect him to do soccer, baseball, scouts, and homework is unreasonable as well. I'm apprehensive about what will ultimately happen with this boy. I hope he doesn't get a bad taste in his mouth for music.
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#954501 - 09/09/08 05:32 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Morodiene Offline
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Considering that, lana, I think your best option is to drop him as a student. If his parents won't let him quit, then perhaps you can help him out in that way. You can't necessarily afford to have a student who doesn't want to be there when there are plenty of others who do, right? Also, when you talk to the parents, let them know this is the reason, and by forcing him to continue is not the best option when he doesn't even have a reasonable chance to do well at it. Perhaps they will have time to rethink things if you let him go.
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#954502 - 09/09/08 05:39 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
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Loc: UK.
Lana, I know you want to do the best for your student as we all do. There is nothing wrong with that. It's what makes you a good teacher.

I think this thread has more to do with doing the right thing for yourself. You could take advice from Betty and Jeremy who are both fantastic and experienced teachers. They say you should stick with it. Or you could take the hard line and drop him like others would (myself included). If you do this his parents will take him elsewhere and he will become another teachers problem. The change might do him good (that's no disrespect to you). Either way you have to be happy with the decision.

What do you feel is right for you?
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#954503 - 09/09/08 05:49 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Strat Offline
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Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 577
Loc: Toronto, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
People may approach the piano as a hobby or as a personal endeavor to achieve at their highest level, and there are lots of motivations in between.[/b]
True. I won't quote your entire post, but my comment is directed specifically towards this situation. For this student, it's merely a hobby and one he has zero interest for. So no, it doesn't matter what *you* consider it to be (frankly, there's a lot of bias on your part since you're a teacher), as the only thing that's important in this case is what *he* considers it to be.

And from everything that's been mentioned so far, he finds it a tremendous waste of time.

Again, it's up to the initial poster to realize this and drop him. Wouldn't it be more rewarding to help a new motivated student than to desperately cling onto one that resents being there?
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#954504 - 09/09/08 06:16 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by lana_lang:

When I talked to my student about this, he admitted that piano was the lowest in priority in his life, and that he is so busy that he doesn't feel like he has time to practice. To me, piano can't be lowest priority if you want to learn and improve. I fault the parents for forcing him to learn piano, but to also expect him to do soccer, baseball, scouts, and homework is unreasonable as well. I'm apprehensive about what will ultimately happen with this boy.
The problem: you can't save the world. You don't even have control over one boy's life. I agree with you about crazy parents who decide their children have to do every sport and every activity in the world, all at the same time. It's insane.

But if you try to tell them that, they will only get mad at you for "interfering". The only thing you can do is make it clear to the student hat *you* do not think less of him because piano is not something he cares about.

If you put down your foot (to the parents) and state that you will not continue teaching someone who doesn't even like the piano, they may get angry, or they may beg you to continue.

Or you can talk to the student and parents and demand some kind of reasonable practice schedule, plus an agreement to keep track in writing of time.

However, I only do that when I sense a kid just needs a push and really does like piano. Otherwise it turns you into a warden, and you become the bad guy.
 Quote:

I hope he doesn't get a bad taste in his mouth for music.
But the longer someone is *forced* to something they don't want to do, the worse the "bad taste".

I agree with others whos say stop the lessons. Now, if the parents pick yet another teacher and continue to torture the poor kid, it's out of your hands!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#954505 - 09/10/08 12:22 AM Re: Student wants to quit
lana_lang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 45
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
As I read all your responses, I'm still trying to figure out if this boy truly detests piano (in which case I would just drop him like a hat), OR if he has become too lazy/apathetic to put in the time to become a good pianist (hence piano becoming lowest in priority). Even in the latter case, I'm not sure he should continue taking lessons.

I'm going to try a different approach for a little while, allowing him to select all his music (he wants to play rock) and see how that goes. I'm hoping that he will start having fun playing and he will want to practice.
_________________________
part-time piano teacher for 1.5 years

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#954506 - 09/10/08 01:24 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Strat Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 577
Loc: Toronto, Canada
With all due respect, you're not making much sense. You *just* wrote that the poor kid has to manage soccer, baseball, scouts, homework, and the normal life of a teen (which consists of you know,... going out with friends & socializing) and now you're writing that you hope he'll start wanting to practice?

I'm incredibly confused, lana_lang. You wrote "he is so busy that he doesn't feel like he has *time* to practice." (!)

Wanting to play is one thing. Ask most people and they'll tell you they'd love to be able to be a skilled pianist, but it takes dedication, perseverance, talent, motivation, and of course time. Just because I want to be full of muscles won't make me a muscular guy. For that, I'd need to apply myself in becoming muscular, repeatedly going to the gym and giving it my all during my "practice time." The drive & dedication to attain my goal of being Mr Muscles would only be possible if I were to put a lot of effort into it.

This kid doesn't have any of this. Maybe he's talented, but that's besides the point. Whether it's his parents forcing him to cope with everything or the kid wanting to be a part of all of the aforementioned activities, the fact remains that there's no logical way for this kid to progress.

So what's the point in giving lessons to him? More to the point, why persist in asking for advice when you ignore it? I know people like that who "ask for advice," but what they really want to hear is something that reinforces their initial opinion on the matter. You've got 3 pages of posts from people who are (mostly) telling you the best thing to do would be to drop him. It's like you think you'll be admitting defeat somehow & you're scared of doing it.

Your intentions are good, your dedication is admirable, and the fact that you care is fantastic. Now, set aside your emotions and make the sound decision.

You're honestly only delaying the inevitable. And it's making me (and possibly others) cringe to see you grasping desperately at straws.
_________________________
Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#954507 - 09/10/08 09:32 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11929
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Well, put, Strat. Sometimes we as teachers can be more dedicated to lessons than our students are. In such cases, if they last for too long, it becomes and unhealthy relationship.

Case and point, I got a call from an adult student last night. This was one that I think I had posted about before who wanted to learn how to play music for church. I told him that he'd have to learn how to read music in order to do this, and he agreed. At first he said he'd only need to take a "few" lessons, and I corrected him by saying that it takes years for people to learn to play the instrument with any degree of proficiency. When he started lessons, he didn't really practice much, and so his progress was excruciatingly slow. When he called me last night, he said that the church had hired someone else to play the piano for them, and since he now had the book, he could continue to learn on his own. He commented on how long it took to learn piano (as if I hadn't said this before, and as if he hadn't extended it by not practicing). I simply said that I understood and hoped he continued to play. It has been clear to me that I was more committed to his lessons than he was. Often these things will end themselves like this, and that is for the better, but in this case, there would be no shame for you lana to drop the student. He may just not be ready to be so committed, and honestly, he doesn't have time either.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#954508 - 09/10/08 10:57 AM Re: Student wants to quit
lana_lang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 45
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Strat:
With all due respect, you're not making much sense. You *just* wrote that the poor kid has to manage soccer, baseball, scouts, homework, and the normal life of a teen (which consists of you know,... going out with friends & socializing) and now you're writing that you hope he'll start wanting to practice?

I'm incredibly confused, lana_lang. You wrote "he is so busy that he doesn't feel like he has *time* to practice." (!)

[/b]
I'm sorry if I've confused you. This is a learning process for me.

He may be a busy kid, but if he has just 30 minutes a day to put into praticing, he should be able to improve. How many of us say we have no time, but we *have* to watch our favorite show? I have a feeling that this is the case with him.

Like I said before, I am going to give this student just a couple more weeks and see if he seems invigorated by choosing his own music. Maybe I'm just delaying the inevitable, but I wouldn't do it if I didn't feel like there was a small glimmer of hope.

I appreciate all the advice, everyone.
_________________________
part-time piano teacher for 1.5 years

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#954509 - 09/10/08 03:12 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larisa:
I dunno. My mother wanted me to take gymnastics when I was a kid. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to play the piano instead. Fortunately for me, she did not push the issue and let me quit gymnastics.

Do I regret "walking away"? Not a whit. I am glad I got to spend my time doing what I wanted to do instead of doing what my mother wanted to do. Would it have changed my mind if the gymnastics teacher tried very hard to keep me interested and engaged? Maybe, but not for long. I wanted to do something else with my time, and I am glad I was allowed to do so.

Incidentally, I never wanted to quit piano. Ever. Not as a child, not as a teenager, not as an adult. Yes, my parents had to force the issue of practicing at times, but never the issue of continuing with lessons. [/b]
I know I've told this story before, but since there are new people, please bear with me if you've already heard this. I wanted to quit as a child. I never practiced, yet I loved piano. I was just very insecure and was extremely afraid of lessons, even though I had a wonderful and patient teacher. My parents and my teacher did not let me quit until I had 10 years of lessons, and I am so glad they made me stick it out. I kept playing, and when I returned to lessons many years later, I was ready. I know that everyone is different, and that piano isn't meant for everyone. Only the teacher can really assess what the situation is, and when it's best to let go, or give it a different approach. [/b]
Sure - but the kid's opinion should count for something. Your parents and teacher may have seen something in you that may have led them to believe that you do actually want to play the piano - you loved piano, as you say. But not everyone is like that. I shudder at the very thought of my mother telling me "Well, you have to take gymnastics for 10 years", or of the teacher making that decision for me. I am glad I got to make my own decision. I did not love gymnastics. I would not love it any more if I were forced into it for 10 years.

Piano is not for everyone. Music is not for everyone. What is the point of forcing it on someone who does not enjoy it?

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#954510 - 09/10/08 04:19 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Strat:
[QB] With all due respect, you're not making much sense. You *just* wrote that the poor kid has to manage soccer, baseball, scouts, homework, and the normal life of a teen (which consists of you know,... going out with friends & socializing) and now you're writing that you hope he'll start wanting to practice?
The key point to me is that this kid, from what I've read, does not like piano. It's not a practicing problem. It's a "liking piano" problem.

I have a teen right now who is busy with too many things, in my opinion. Three weeks in a row he told me that he was too busy to practice at all, which is bull. Sorry, but it is.

The third week I said this:

"Up till now you've made very good progess. For a person who has only played about one year, you are quite advanced. It's obviously you enjoy playing. And I enjoy teaching you.

So here's the deal. Before you leave today, you have to promise me that you will practice 5 minutes, at least three times a week. Why 5 minutes? Because it is so little time, it's hardly more than a TV commerical slot.

Now, if at the end of those 5 minutes you really are so tired, so burnt-out (in general), so unable to concentrate, then OK, stop. But most of the time that won't happen. Most of the time you will play for a few minutes and find that a lot more time has gone by, and you won't want to get up any more than you wanted to start."

And his playing is right back on track again.

He has never practiced a lot, but he is cooperative in lessons, learns quickly, and probably would have been an excellent player if he has started at age 5. He plays better than most of my students who practice much more. I'm not going to "fire" him because he practices too little, as long as he continues to make progress.

But I would and will show him the door if he goes back to zero practicing, because then I become the personal-piano trainer, and I'll bed ****** if I will accept that job and the lack of respect that goes with it.

This is an example of someone who just needed to be pushed a little into doing what he really wanted to do anyway.

To me that's totally different from someone who really doesn't like the piano. That just doesn't work for me. For one thing, it sucks energy out of me and leaves me with less for the other students who are trying.
 Quote:

Wanting to play is one thing. Ask most people and they'll tell you they'd love to be able to be a skilled pianist, but it takes dedication, perseverance, talent, motivation, and of course time. Just because I want to be full of muscles won't make me a muscular guy. For that, I'd need to apply myself in becoming muscular, repeatedly going to the gym and giving it my all during my "practice time." The drive & dedication to attain my goal of being Mr Muscles would only be possible if I were to put a lot of effort into it.
I'm glad you mentioned that. The fact that someone would like to play the piano means nothing to me if that person is unwilling to do any work, and I've met a lot of people like that. In fact, they tend to move from interest to interest, starting things, quitting, starting other things, then quitting again. It becomes a pattern.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#954511 - 09/10/08 04:51 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I just had the same experience with the 5 minute idea 5 minutes ago in that I told an 8 year old 2nd grader to practice 5 minutes on one song, then to go back to the piano later and play a different song for 5 minutes.

This because she just had her 1 year anniversity, plays great, until recently when her Mom has been taking care of twin little boys, 2 and a half years old, and their mother who is fighting a life threatening disease. So the home is very busy now with lots of spontaneous interruptions. Five minutes will make a dent.

If you can start to play for 5 minutes, maybe the thrill of it will help you continute without counting the minutes.

Kind of like, "gentlemen, start your engines".

Then, I had one back out of lessons by email this morning, which would have started today, because he is very concerned about how he is going to fit homework, football and piano in. He had 5 lessons in the summer and showed lots of promise.

And, my 2 0'clock cancelled 5 minutes ago for her lessons today because they are going to the fair on a school district pass today.

There are always choices to be made.

I may or may not get the news in a timely way - but this represents today's society. I'm afraid 24 hour notice is a thing from another century.

It has been very noticable that people are pulling out of lessons in my studio as I've just started school year lessons this week, after a 2 week vacation. It's the economics of life, and the major changes politically, and a Boeing strike affecting our area.

I don't quite know what to expect - but the yearly report I write to myself will be interesting!

Betty

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#954512 - 09/10/08 05:18 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
And, my 2 0'clock cancelled 5 minutes ago for her lessons today because they are going to the fair on a school district pass today.

There are always choices to be made.

I may or may not get the news in a timely way - but this represents today's society. I'm afraid 24 hour notice is a thing from another century.
[/b]
I hope you told them no money back and no make up
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954513 - 09/10/08 05:41 PM Re: Student wants to quit
pianoexcellence Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
I just had the same experience with the 5 minute idea 5 minutes ago in that I told an 8 year old 2nd grader to practice 5 minutes on one song, then to go back to the piano later and play a different song for 5 minutes.

[/b]
I've always enjoyed using that one too! I'm glad you brought this up Gary D
_________________________
Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

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#954514 - 09/11/08 11:57 AM Re: Student wants to quit
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
I remember having the same dilema many times because we judge ourselves by the progress our students make. If it doesn't work out it is too easy to blame yourself. I guess I am still guilty of flogging some students way past their sell by date. I have a small minority who have been on death row for a while now. Perhaps I should take my own advice and let them go. [/b]
Ha, "death row"

I stopped blaming myself a long time ago. There are too many things we teachers can't control, and we shouldn't be judged by things we cannot control. I was reading this Newsweek article on this Korean-American teacher in inner city schools who worked 80-hour weeks to get her kids in shape. Congrats to her, but I doubt we can find many teachers willing to give up 80 hours per week to become stupendous teachers.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#954515 - 09/11/08 06:14 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
I just lost a student today. The girl is 16 years old and late intermediate level. She has been with me for ten years now and has always been a bit of a plodder. Practice and progress have never been great but she has done enough to justify keeping her on and she never complained about piano.

Her mother called by my studio and informed me that she would no longer be coming. She (my student) couldn't really be bothered with it anymore. They had a friend over for dinner who had reached a similar standard as a child. This friend could no longer play anything at all. I think that is what made their mind up.

To be honest I am not that sorry. She was one of my 'death row' students! I did think it a little bit odd that after all those years this kid could not tell me face to face and at least acknowledge the time we spent learning. I guess it never meant that much to her.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954516 - 09/11/08 09:18 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Chris H,

I feel your annoyance too Chris, you would think that someone in a musical relationship with a teacher would have the courtesy to express appreciation for what was significant and what was accomplished with the student. That cold phone call or e-mail that dissconnects them from you is impersonal and tunnel vision on their part.

It's too bad that we put so much time and effort into someone that is not appreciating our musical connection together.

I just said Goodbye to a student that has been with me the longest, since 2000, and just transferred into high school. The is a talented pianist and becoming a good percussionist at school. I know a percussion teacher was seeking her out last month for lessons, and they met at a band concert at the park and got acquainted. It will be a wonderful thing for my student because she wants to be a music teacher, probably in public school.

So she came to lesson (the first of the new school year) only to give her 30 day notice to me. I decided to accept her termination on the spot, and I returned her last payment made since she had not had lessons in the month of September. I thought it was easiest for both of us not to try to get through this month lessons.

The family are our friends from our long association, we will be meeting again as friends in the community, and I want them to feel good about their daughter's future.

So this was done as nicely as is possible, and we sat on the patio talking for an hour.

It is not a surprize to me over all, but it still is a disconnect that affects both of us.

Chris, you and I have been experiencing a lot in common this week.

I think it's marvelous that you can keep your students so long, and I've sure you had a lot to teach her, whether she was ready or not, or understood the legacy of piano lessons as relates to her.

Let's close the door softly.

Betty

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#954517 - 09/11/08 11:05 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
I just had the same experience with the 5 minute idea 5 minutes ago in that I told an 8 year old 2nd grader to practice 5 minutes on one song, then to go back to the piano later and play a different song for 5 minutes.
It's amazing what 5 minutes can do!
 Quote:

This because she just had her 1 year anniversity, plays great, until recently when her Mom has been taking care of twin little boys, 2 and a half years old, and their mother who is fighting a life threatening disease. So the home is very busy now with lots of spontaneous interruptions. Five minutes will make a dent.
And keep her going, hopefully, until things are smoother.
 Quote:

If you can start to play for 5 minutes, maybe the thrill of it will help you continute without counting the minutes.

Kind of like, "gentlemen, start your engines".
Yup!
 Quote:

Then, I had one back out of lessons by email this morning, which would have started today, because he is very concerned about how he is going to fit homework, football and piano in. He had 5 lessons in the summer and showed lots of promise.
I'll bust my rear for my students, but they have to pay for the coming month the last week of the previous month, and I don't allow make-ups for same day cancellations except in really unusual circumstances. I was not so strict in the past, but I wish I had been.
 Quote:

And, my 2 0'clock cancelled 5 minutes ago for her lessons today because they are going to the fair on a school district pass today.
That's why I won't make up same-day cancellations.
 Quote:

I may or may not get the news in a timely way - but this represents today's society. I'm afraid 24 hour notice is a thing from another century.
You would be suprised to find out that people will still try hard to give you 24 hours notice if they will lose the money. I think you are too kind!
 Quote:

It has been very noticable that people are pulling out of lessons in my studio as I've just started school year lessons this week, after a 2 week vacation. It's the economics of life, and the major changes politically, and a Boeing strike affecting our area.
I have 36 students right now, I think, and it's the lowest number I've had at this time in years. Things are tough right now, and I hear about hard times from people I know in other countries. I do many things to try to take the financial strain off people. You just have to be careful that people are not taking advantage of you, not for overall economic reasons, but just because they are rude and have no respect for what you do.

For the most part, I think we all have to hope we will finally see a turn-around from the horrible problems we've been facing. For example, a neighbor no longer has a job because of the housing market here. He's an architect. No one is building homes now (relatively speaking), and he lost his health insurance (for his whole family) two months before he was officially laid off.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#954518 - 09/13/08 02:30 AM Re: Student wants to quit
lana_lang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 45
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Update:
I decided to let my student go, and I spoke with his mother today. The strange part is, she told me that he DOES enjoy piano, but didn't like taking lessons from me because "he didn't like how I compared him to another student" who is doing better than him, and that I "didn't give him enough praise". She plans to find a new teacher.

I never made such comparisons, and I did praise and encourage him when he was doing well or trying his best. I'm sad that he feels that way about me, and I don't know how it happend.

I know I did my best and should just move on. But because I'm new to teaching and these are some of my first students, I can't help but feel like I've failed somehow.

Have any of you ever had a student quit because they felt jealous/inadequate when compared to another student? How do you find the balance between praise and constructive criticism, especially when the student is not doing the assigned work?
_________________________
part-time piano teacher for 1.5 years

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#954519 - 09/13/08 02:50 AM Re: Student wants to quit
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by lana_lang:
I decided to let my student go, and I spoke with his mother today. The strange part is, she told me that he DOES enjoy piano, but didn't like taking lessons from me because "he didn't like how I compared him to another student" who is doing better than him, and that I "didn't give him enough praise". She plans to find a new teacher. [/b]
Lana:

Don't feel so bad! If that student were studying with me, he'd quit in two weeks. I compare students, too, not in a "you're horrible" manner, but in an objective "he does it this way, she does this part better" way. In fact, if you don't make any comparisons, it's kinda hard to point out the differences. For example, when you demonstrate the piece, isn't the student supposed to "compare" the way he plays versus the way you play??? Isn't that comparison?

If a student quits because he isn't getting enough "praise," then he will have a REALLY tough time in the workplace when he grows up.

Some children are more sensitive than others. It is important to gauge their sensitivity, but, at the same time, don't completely pander to them. They still need to learn. When learning isn't possible anymore with you, then it's time for him to move on.

Good call!!
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#954520 - 09/13/08 03:00 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
And some parents are more sensitive than others too. Notice how it was his mum that made these comments and not your student. She was just reacting to the fact that you will no longer teach him.

When they start with their new teacher they will say how bad you were and that is why he can't play. Then in a few months time the new teacher will be facing the same problem that you no longer have!

Don't take it personally. Next week when you don't have to teach him you will feel so much better. Fill that time slot with someone who wants to do it.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954521 - 09/13/08 04:12 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by lana_lang:
Update:
I decided to let my student go, and I spoke with his mother today. The strange part is, she told me that he DOES enjoy piano, but didn't like taking lessons from me because "he didn't like how I compared him to another student" who is doing better than him, and that I "didn't give him enough praise". She plans to find a new teacher.
Good riddance!

You are dealing with a mother who is looking to blame everyone in the world for problems she is creating herself.

Pity the next teacher, who will get nothing but headaches from dealing with the woman.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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